12 spicy facts about curry after blogger sparks debate over name of Indian dish
11th August 2021

In recent days, the term "curry" has sparked a huge debate after a food blogger claimed it should be ditched.

As we reported yesterday, Chaheti Bansal posted an Instagram video calling on her followers and the public to "cancel the word curry".

In the short clip uploaded earlier this year, viewed more than 3.6 million times, she says the term has been misused by foreigners to describe every dish made on the Asian subcontinent.

She added: “We are still using this umbrella term popularised by white people who couldn’t be bothered to learn the actual names of our dishes.”

But how much do you know about the origins of the takeaway favourite? We have 12 spicy facts.

1. The original “curry” pre-dates the British presence in India by about 4,000 years. The three basic ingredients of the spicy stew were ginger, garlic and turmeric.

2. While the first curry recipe in English appeared in Hannah Glasse’s The Art Of Cookery in 1747, the food really took off in the UK when members of the British Army got a taste for it while serving on the Indian sub-continent.

3. There is no dish in South-East Asia called curry – instead the Brits lumped all sauce-based dishes under that name. It comes from officials mishearing the Tamil word “kari” which can translate to both “sauce” and “side dish.”

4. Today 23million of us regularly tuck into a spicy treat although a survey for National Curry Week last year found the mild tikka masala was our favourite variety, followed by korma and jalfrezi.

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5. The origins of chicken tikka masala are disputed, but one claim is that it was invented in the 1970s by a Bangladeshi chef in Glasgow who added a mild tomato-cream sauce to his chicken tikka to please a customer.

6. We each spend £30,000 in a lifetime on curry, according to research by Sainsbury’s, and we chomp down on a whopping 205million poppadoms annually.

7. Celebrity fans include Tom Cruise whose takeaway order is chicken tikka, black lentils, aloo gobi, spinach and naan and singer Pixie Lott, who once ditched a swish party to go for a curry.

8. Britain’s first Indian restaurant, the Hindoostane Coffee House, was set up in London in 1810.

Today 90% of the estimated 12,000 Indian restaurants in Britain are owned and run by Bangladeshis.

9. Balti, named after the bowl-like dish which food is both cooked and served in, is a British creation coming out of Birmingham in the 1970s. The word “balti” means bucket although the dish is more of a thin steel wok.

10. There are health benefits from tucking into the dish. The yellow spice turmeric has been linked with having anti-cancer properties, while capsaicin found in chillies can boost metabolism and have been linked with lowering blood pressure. Fenugreek, often found in curries, has been shown to improve orgasms.

11. The largest curry, made in Singapore in 2015, weighed in at 15.34tonnes, while the longest ever naan bread, made in 2016 in Canada, measured more than 16ft. And the Tamarind Restaurant in Northampton holds the record for tallest stack of poppadoms – 5ft 7in.

12. Phaal is often considered the hottest in the world. Another curry originating in Birmingham, it is hotter than a vindaloo due to the ground scotch bonnet or habanero chillies used to create the volcanic meal.

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